For every book we read during the book club, one of our book club members will write a review. This way anyone who couldn’t be there, can still join in with the fun! Our first YA book is The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks and the review is written by Reka Paul.
“Why wish this book on a child?” does Lorna Bradbury from The Telegraph asks. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks is as dark as it gets and fulfills all promises of a novel filed under Young Adult Horror Fiction. This book gives you chills in both ways, it is extremely captivating and repulsive at the same time.
The story revolves around the diary of Linus Weems, a 16-year old formerly rich now homeless kid that wakes up in a bunker and starts writing about the occurrences down there in the weeks that follow his arrival. No explanation is given to him as to why he is held captive in such a place and neither do any of the other unfortunate souls know that are thrown into the bunker later on. In the end there are six prisoners, held in this more than obscure place, being watched and listened to and depended for food and survival on the mysterious man that must be somewhere up there, controlling their lives and punishing them villainously each time they try to escape.
Linus describes the other prisoners in more or less favorable ways, forms a deep friendship with the 9-year old Jenny, but keeps despising other bunker-mates for the way they try to deal with their situation. Such as a businessman that takes himself too important when discussing the situation with the other inmates or a selfish young women that refuses to share food at times and shows very little cooperation with the other locked up victims. During their time in the bunker the inmates struggle to keep their calm which is understandable, but it also shows their dark sides at times which results in stark violence and brutal behavior towards each other. Linus starts reflecting on his own life, his past and his relationship to his father, due to the fact that there is nothing else down there to spend his time on than the empty notebook everyone got from the man upstairs and uses as a diary now.
The fatality of the situation sinks in slowly during the read. If there was still a trace of sense in the situation at the beginning, the longer the six are locked up together the less one understands and is frustrated at the little information you get about their kidnapper. At times the story is stirred up by escape attempts and following punishments but mostly the days are monotone, filled with unfruitful discussions among the prisoners or their coping with the situation. Except for Linus, none of the characters undergoes a noticeable development, which is also not too surprising since the story is told completely from his point of view. Even though the book is extremely dark and gives the feeling of hopelessness most of the time, it nevertheless captivates until the end and one cannot but start liking Linus and admire his attitude of keeping up the spirit until the end.
The book won the Carnegie Medal, which is Britain’s most prestigious Children Book price according to The Telegraph. This also made journalists such as Bradbury wonder about the fact that such a dark book was so highly praised as being of high value for young readers. After all the book’s publication had been rejected for thirteen years and Brooks had been told continuously to change the ending to a more favorable one. He continued refusing to do so, so please be prepared.